Can music bring people together? Effects of shared musical preference on intergroup bias in adolescence


Mark Tarrant, School of Psychology, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1782 583325; fax: +44 (0) 1782 583387; e-mail:


Recent research has successfully applied social identity theory to demonstrate how individuals use music as a basis for intergroup differentiation. The current study investigated how music might also be used to encourage the development of positive intergroup attitudes. Participants (N= 97) were allocated to one of two experimentally created social groups and then led to believe that the groups had similar or different musical preferences. They then evaluated each group and reported their perceptions concerning how they expected their own group to be evaluated by the other group. Participants who believed the groups had similar musical preferences reported more positive intergroup attitudes relative to a control group; they also expected to be evaluated more positively by members of the other group. However, positive intergroup perceptions were also reported by those who believed the two groups had different musical preferences. The implications of these findings for theory and practice are discussed.